The Tampa Bay Rays have found a designated hitter for the upcoming season, one who bats left-handed and brings some pop to the lineup.
The Rays have signed former Oriole Luke Scott to a one-year, $5 million deal, with a $6 million option in 2013 or a $1 million buyout. The deal also has bonuses tied to play appearances both years.
Scott, 33, played in only 64 games last season for the Orioles because of a torn labrum in his right shoulder that required surgery and kept him on the disabled list for the final two months. In his three previous seasons, Scott averaged 25 home runs with a career-high 27 in 2010. Including his injury shortened 2011 season, Scott batted .260 with a .342 on-base percentage and a .485 slugging percentage during his four years with the Orioles.
Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman indicated during the winter meetings in Dallas that he wouldn't mind a designated hitter who could also play a position. Scott adds flexibility to the roster, having played the corner outfield spots and first base during a seven-year big-league career that began with the Astros.
Scott, who made $6.4 million last season, was non-tendered by the Orioles this offseason. His signing likely means Johnny Damon will not rejoin the Rays in 2012.
Damon, signed last offseason to play left field, took over the DH chores when Manny Ramirez retired in early April after violating Major League Baseball's performance-enhancing drug policy for the second time.
Damon was a catalyst in the Rays' offense, batting .261 with 16 home runs, 73 RBIs, 51 walks, 19 stolen bases and an on-base percentage of .326 while inching closer to the coveted 3,000-career-hit plateau. Damon, 38, had 152 hits during the season, bringing his career total to 2,723.
Friedman said all offseason that Damon was in the pool of players being targeted for the DH role, and Damon expressed a desire to return to Tampa Bay.
Damon reiterated that desire Wednesday morning while working out with the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
"I'm hoping Tampa will come calling again, because I felt like that was a perfect match, the leadership I can bring to them," Damon said in an interview provided by Disney Sports. "But I'm also going to explore some options, because I know Tampa is exploring options in the trade market. Unfortunately, this game is a business, and once you get older, teams start to wait until the very end (of the offseason) to sign you. I know I'm going to play, it's just a matter of where, and we're still hoping it's going to be Tampa."
That hope seems to have ended.
A number of Rays have started working out at Tropicana Field. … RF Matt Joyce is taking ground balls at first base in an effort to expand his versatility and give manager Joe Maddon some late-inning roster flexibility. … RHP Alex Cobb, who had a blood clot and his first right rib removed during surgery in August because of thoracic outlet syndrome, has resumed throwing and said he will be ready by spring training. … CF B.J. Upton filmed a promotion Wednesday at the Trop for Busch Gardens, a shoot that involved cheetahs.